Rhetoric, it seems, is a producer of persuasion for belief, not for instruction in the matter of right and wrong … And so the rhetorician's business is not to instruct a law court or a public meeting in matters of right and wrong, but only to make them believe.
Gorgias is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 BC. In this dialogue, Socrates seeks the true definition of rhetoric, attempting to pinpoint the essence of rhetoric and unveil the flaws of the sophistic oratory popular in Athens at this time. The art of persuasion was widely considered necessary for political and legal advantage in classical Athens, and rhetoricians promoted themselves as teachers of this fundamental skill.
Image: Plato and Aristotle in Raphael’s ‘The School of Athens’.
originally published on The Minot Voice: March 28, 2015